Saturday, April 20, 2013

Freezer Cleanout Day/This Week's Menu

This morning I inventoried the freezer.  It's funny - I specifically wanted an upright freezer instead of a chest model, because I didn't want to lose things in it.  My freezer isn't very big, about the size of a standard refrigerator (minus the top freezer compartment), but I still lose plenty!  So I've cleaned it out, thrown away just about everything dated 2011, and I'm starting over.

I've tried keeping a paper inventory on the freezer before, but it never works well.  This time I've made an Excel spreadsheet, organized by type (type of animal, produce, ready meals, etc.), and I'm going to slip it into a sheet protector and tape it to the door.  Then I can just use a dry erase marker to update as I go.  I've left open spaces to add new entries, also, and when it gets messy enough, I can just add those to the Excel document and print a new sheet. 

The good news is, if I plan carefully, I shouldn't have to buy meat for about six weeks!  Of course I will - after all, this is me (the compulsive grocery shopper) we're talking about, but at least I can use the time to keep an eye out for sales, coupons, and orange tags, and other good deals. 

Why this sudden interest in the freezer, you may ask?  Excellent question.  We've had several hits to the budget lately.  The cost of health insurance went up.  My husband reach the point where he could start investing in his 401k.  Then, we had to buy a new car.  No, we didn't have to buy a BRAND new car, but, to get what we wanted, the price difference between new and used was only a couple thousand dollars so we decided to bite the bullet and get the new one.  I drove my old car for 12 years and more than 200,000 miles, so it's not like we're "let's buy a new car just for the heck of it" people!  We were able to put down a healthy down payment, but we now have a car payment for the first time in about nine years. 

All of that means that we're now watching our dollars more closely than we have in a long, long time.  I've reworked our budget to make sure we know where everything is going, and I'm back to menu planning and avoiding food waste whenever possible.  I've started occasionally going back to the grocery store I tend to avoid, where the food costs less but many of the other customers are astoundingly rude.  At least they have a fabulous bulk section.  I still go to my regular store about every other week, where my daughter can visit their "playland" and hang out with other kids while I get the shopping done.

Click here for more menu ideas!

So, now that I have a freshly inventoried freezer, here's the menu plan for this week (I like to cook from scratch, but my daughter has swimming lessons on Mondays and Wednesdays so those are the quick meal nights):

Saturday:  White Beans and Sausage
Sunday:  Kielbasa and Cabbage
Monday:  Potstickers (of the frozen variety)
Tuesday: Stuffed peppers (found a container of filling in the freezer!)
Wednesday: Taquitos (the commercial frozen kind)
Thursday: Taco Salad
Friday: Pizza Noodles

Have a great week!

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